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El Residente A Publicaon of ARCR Administracion S.A.

March - April 2012

March/April 2012

ARCR Administracion S.A. Apdo. 1191-1007 Centro Colon San JosĂŠ, Costa Rica 1 (

Contents: President’s Message................. 3 Club Corner.............................. 4 A Call for Help........................... 7 - Martha Rollins

Wild Side of Costa Rica............. 8 - Ryan Piercy

Legal Update, Corporate tax.... 10

Editor’s Note The Ides of March is already coming, and with it comes our newest addion to the family of El Residente magazine from the ARCR. At our monthly seminars one of our members always alludes to the secret of long-life here in Costa Rica. He says it is not the health system, nor the climate, and not even the relaxed way of life, but is in fact the Gallo Pinto! So in this issue we are finally bringing you some rice and beans for breakfast. That, along with other arcles on the new corporate tax, the global invesng situaon, something on the Bribri in Salitre, and even bats, should give you something to feed your knowledge a lile.

- Allan Garro N.

Learning the Language............ 13 - Chris Howard

A Day in the Life...................... 14 - Allen Dickenson

Every issue we work on I find I learn something new, or it even hits me with something I hadn’t even considered before. So, we hope that you enjoy reading El Residente as much as we enjoy pung it together for you.

Costa Rica Living...................... 16

Ryan Piercy

- Ana Hernández

The New Currency................... 19

Contact Informaon:

- Alan Weeks

ARCR Administraon Edtor in Chief: Ryan Piercy Adversing, Publicity: Cindy Solano

Business Directory................... 26

Office Hours:

Monday- Friday, 9 am to 5 pm CRC me GMT-6


#101 Casa Canada, Av 4 Calle 40 San José, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2233-8068 Fax: 506-2255-0051

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 1191-1007 Centro Colon San José, Costa Rica

Connecon WCCR................... 20 - Stacey Auch

Dollars & Sense....................... 22

This magazine has been published every two months since 1995 as the official communicaons media of the ARCR. Our organizaon provides service to thousands of foreigners who have chosen Costa Rica to reside for short periods or for permanent residence.

Published by: Email:

Since 1984 the ARCR has been offering reliable SERVICES, INFORMATION and ADVOCACY to Costa Rica’s foreign residents. We have the experience and ability to help you with your residency applicaon, immigraon, business and financial management, real estate purchases and rentals, property management, insurance, pet importaon and much more. If you wish to place an ad in El Residente, please contact the ARCR main office. Goods & services offered are paid adversements. Neither ARCR Administracion nor El Residente research the companies and take no responsibility for the quality of such goods and services.

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President’s Message by Mel Goldberg Some Points of Interest U.S. EMBASSY AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NOTES: If you normally receive a Social Security payment check through a local bank account, and you haven’t received one recently, it may be because each year the Social Security Administraon sends out a form to those receiving benefits outside the USA which must be completed for the payments to connue arriving. If you didn’t get the quesonnaire, it’s possibly because it wasn’t forwarded from your U.S. address. Unl the form is completed and received, the Social Security Administraon will not resume payments. If that is your situaon, it can be corrected by contacng the Federal Benefits Unit of the American Embassy in San Jose. Remember, the Federal Benefits Unit (Telephone 25192150), which handles Social Security, Veterans Pensions, etc., will now be closed the second and last Thursdays of every month. If you are curious about widow’s entlement to Social Security benefits, here’s some informaon I just received from the Federal Benefits Unit: To qualify for Social Security benefits from a spouse’s account, and the recipient is NOT a U.S. cizen, and has never worked or paid in to Social Security, to receive benefits, they MUST have and lived in the USA for FIVE CONSECUTIVE YEARS aer the date of the marriage. He / she must further live in the U.S. for one calendar month EVERY six months. Once those qualificaons are met, SS will deduct 25% of the payment for taxes. Everyone’s situaon is different, so depending on records (and future changes to the law) the best way to determine eligibility is to call the Federal Benefits Unit and they will schedule an interview. GENERAL NOTES: I am in possession of mail from official U.S. agencies (not the FBI in case they are worried) for two different people whose locaon cannot be

idenfied. I have leers for both GREGORY W. ADAMS and STUART A. JEDDELOH. If anyone knows either of these persons, have them contact me at 8870-6756. By the me you read this, ARCR will have entered into a contract with a local funeral home to provide an approximately 50% discount for cremaon of members. The discount also applies to U.S. military veterans living or vising Costa Rica at the me of their passing. A twenty percent discount is available for all other funeral arrangements. Another benefit for ARCR members. More informaon on this will be printed in future issues. I just received my new AARP membership card and with it came a booklet telling me about all the U.S. businesses who grant discounts to AARP members; everything from cereal to clothing to meals to theaters to flowers. If you return to the U.S. occasionally, it may be worthwhile to join AARP. By-the-way, if anyone has the September 2011 AARP Bullen, I would like to see it. If you or someone you know wants to mail books through the USPS at the special library rate, do not seal the packages before going to the Post Office – they will open them to assure there are only books inside. Apparently some persons have tried to take advantage of the low book rate when mailing other items. OF INTEREST TO VETERANS: As promised, here is early informaon about the American Legion Post 10 of Escazu, 2012 Memorial Day ceremony. The remembrance will be held at 11 AM on Monday, May, 10th, at the San Antonio de Escazu Cemetery. All persons are invited and a picnic will be held aer the services. For more informaon or direcons, call John Moran at 2232-1680. The Hospital Metropolitano Pharmacy is now accepng prescripons for paents with Tricare, Champus, VA, and Foreign Medical programs – with proper documentaon, of course. (At the present me ONLY the pharmacy is parcipang in this trial program.) For more informaon, call Jeanee Varela at 2521-6565, ext. 2243, or 8382-5533.

Cover: The Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) The Tiburón Toro is Costa Rica’s representave of the coral reef ecosystem, shown on the new 2000 colon note. Normally this species, which has a near-threatened status, average between 2.1 and 3.4 meters in length. In recent years however larger specimens have been found off the coasts of Costa Rica, near the southern part of the Osa Peninsula. Bull sharks are common in shallower waters, and are even known to swim into freshwater rivers for feeding and to seek protecon from larger predators. March - April 2012


Alcoholics Anonymous Groups meet daily throughout the country; mes and places change frequently. Call for up-to-date informaon. San José 2222-1880 (Anchor club, also serves Narcocs Anonymous) Av 6 Calle 1, 2nd floor Maryland Building. Heredia (Laura) 2267-7466, Puerto Viejo Limon 2750-0080, Zancudo 2776-0012, Tamarindo 2653-0897, Flamingo (Don) 2654- 4902, Manuel Antonio (Jennifer) 2777-1548, Jacó (Nancy) 2637-8824, Zoo Group Escazu 2293-4322. Grecia (Jay) 2494-0578. Southern Zone, meengs in English & Spanish, 8634-9241.

For more informaon Call the LTG Box Office 8858-1446 or

Al-Anon Meengs Al-Anon Family Group is for all family and friends of Alcoholics. Meengs are at the Internaonal Bapst Church, 2nd floor, Saturday morning 10:30, located on the pista toward Santa Ana between the Mulplaza and Guachepelin exits. For informaon in English, please call Ken 2288-0317 and Rosemary 8993-1762; For Spanish please call Chrisne 8840-4658. Also in Grecia on Tuesdays at noon (English), contact Cheryl at 2444-1515.

PC Club of Costa Rica This computer Club meets on the third Saturday of each month at Pan American school, in Belen, 830 to 11:30 am. Two months Free Trial for newcomers. For informaon call Chuck Jennings. Phone 2266-0123

American Legion Post 10- Escazu Post 10, the oldest and largest American Legion Post in Costa Rica, meets at 12 noon on the first Wednesday of each month at Club Cubano in Guachipelin. For informaon and map, please call Mel Goldbergat 2271-5556 or 8870-6756, or John Moran at 2232-1680. American Legion Post 12- Golfito Meengs are held 4 pm 1st Tuesday every month at Banana Bay Marina. The Golfito GOVETS have been helping Southern Costa Rica for over 20 years. Contact Pat at or 27752809. American Legion Post 16- Goicochea Meengs are the second Wednesday of the month in the Hotel of the Hospital Clinica Catolica. Lunch at 11:30 and the meengs at 12: 30 Contact Jim Young at 2524-1265 or Ken Johnson at 2591-1695. Bird Watching Club The Birding Club of Costa Rica sponsors monthly trips to observe local and migrant birds in various areas of the country. For more informaon contact us at Canadian Club The Canadian Club of Costa Rica welcomes everyone to join us for our monthly luncheons, and at our special annual events, like our Canada Day Celebraon, no passport required. For informaon visit our website: Democrats Abroad Democrats Abroad meets on the last Saturday of every month at theAurola Holiday Inn, San Jose. Contact Nelleke Bruyn, 2279-3553, e-mail Join Democrats Abroad at Register to vote absentee at! Lile Theatre Group LTG is the oldest connuously running English-language theatre in Central or South America. The group currently puts on a minimum of four producons a year offering a choice of modern, classic, serious, and farcical plays. The group’s monthly social meengs are held in the theatre on the first Monday of the month from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. and everyone is welcome. Membership: Student C2,500, Adult: C5000, Family: C8000. Also, earn your Wings, become an LTG Angel.

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Marine Corps League Meets at 11am the 2nd Saturday of the month, Int’l Bapst Church, in Guachipelen. Call Bill Enell at 8812-0126. Newcomer’s Club Newcomers Club of Costa Rica (for women) meets the first Tuesday of every month, September through May. September meeng will be an interest fair. Contact: 2416-1111 or hp://

Republican’s Abroad The Republicans Abroad of Costa Rica meets the second Tuesday of each month. Contact Francis 2203-6131, or fax 2282-2150. Radio control Sailing Club Meets at Sabana Park Lake. For informaon contact Walter Bibb. Wine Club of Costa Rica Please mark your calendars. The wine club usually meets at 1 P.M. on the last Sunday of each month. Join us to tantalize your taste buds and expand your educaon. For more informaon on upcoming events please contact us. Phone 2279-8927, 2257-2223 Women’s Club of Costa Rica In 2010 The Women’s Club celebrated 70 years of philanthropy in Costa Rica. Current programs focus on educaon, primarily through scholarships and development of school libraries for children. It is one of the oldest, connuously operang service organizaons in Costa Rica. WCCR membership numbers 250 English-speaking women, represenng 25 countries of the world, drawn together by the moo: Friendship through Service. WCCR monthly meengs with guest speakers are held the second Wednesday of each month, as well as regular luncheons, teas, and many interest groups. Guests are welcome and further informaon can be found at Women’s Internaonal League for Peace and Freedom (open to men too) Bilingual group meets in Heredia on the first Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the clinic of Mireya Gonzalez. We work on peace and human rights issues. Call Mitzi 2433-7078 or write Young Expats of Costa Rica Some Expatriates under the age of 40, and currently living in Costa Rica, have formed a new social club to be coordinated through their website This club will help younger expatriates living in, or moving to, Costa Rica meet other expats in their age group for: friendship, romance, travel and acvity partners, and professional networking. Veterans of Foreign Wars: Post 11207 Meengs are held at 11 am, the first Tuesday of every month, at Club Colonial Casino on the second floor. All members are welcome and veterans who served overseas may join. For info please email the post at


March - April 2012


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A Call for Help Martha Rollins Costa Rica Chat Groups Costa Rica Mullingüe, a non-profit foundaon designed to improve the country’s communicaon skills, was launched by then President Oscar Arias on March 11, 2008. Since then it has spread its acvies throughout Costa Rica; conversaon groups, which incorporate the experse of nave English speaking volunteers, now pepper the naon. English speaking group leaders are now in great demand as parcipants have come to value the rewards which come from praccing a new language on a regular basis. Volunteers, on the other hand, are able to establish new long lasng friendships with Costa Ricans and oen arrange to exchange separate pracce sessions in Spanish for themselves. Meengs generally are one hour per week with me and locaon determined by the group. Because of the demand, the following areas currently are in need of nave English speaking volunteers: In the Central Valley: • Santo Domingo de Heredia • San Jose Centro (using the IPEA English Center for meengs) • Barva de Heredia • Desamparados (using the Museo García Monge for meengs) • Moravia • Guadalupe • Tibas • Alajuela Central and any other Alajuela towns Outside the Central Valley: • Jacó (Using the Jacó library) • Limón Centro

WHAT’S THE GOAL? The program seeks to improve the conversaonal fluency and cultural knowledge of Costa Ricans working on their English skills, and to create new es between these parcipants and the English-speaking resident community of the country. WHO PARTICIPATES? Volunteers: any person fluent in English who lives in Costa Rica, is over 18, and can commit at least one hour per week (plus travel me) for sessions in his or her community. No teaching experience is required, because these are not English classes - they are conversaon groups. Partners: any person over 18 with at least an intermediate level of English (B1 or above on the Common European Framework). We are giving top priority to English teachers with the Public Educaon Ministry, but some groups include partners who are not English teachers (non-teaching staff at schools, other professionals, adult students), depending on demand and volunteer availability. WHERE DOES IT TAKE PLACE? We set up conversaon sessions at any locaon in the country where we can organize a group of at least two volunteers, and at least two conversaon partners. The sessions take place in donated space - a classroom at the local school, a municipal building, a community center, for example. WHEN ARE THE SESSIONS? The sessions are once per week for one hour, at a me agreed upon by the parcipants and communicated to Costa Rica Mullingüe.

Community Conversaons is one of Costa Rica Mullingüe’s volunteer outreach iniaves. The program places English-speaking resident volunteers into conversaon groups with Costa Ricans seeking to pracce their conversaonal English (referred to here as “partners”). These partners may be public-school English teachers, other professionals, or adult students. The groups meet once per week for one hour. The program, which began in May 2009 and now has more than 35 groups meeng naonwide, seeks to improve the conversaonal fluency and cultural knowledge of Costa Ricans working on their English skills, and to create new es between these parcipants and the English-speaking resident community of the country. March - April 2012

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or would just like more informaon, please visit the website: hp: // or email Kristen Woodruff at: 7

Wild Side LXVI Ryan Piercy Beware- Vampires It is interesng to see people’s reacons when one sees or menons bats; immediately they think of blood suckers, even though the vast majority are not. As explained in a previous arcle, most bats, which are mammals, live on a diet of fruits, insects, and/or rodents. On the other hand, vampire bats do, in fact, exist, and are quite interesng to study.

There are three different species of vampire bats, all in the family desmodonnae, and Costa Rica is home to all three. These include the Common vampire bat, the White-winged vampire bat, and the Hairy-legged vampire bat. These animals are small creatures and grow up to about 9 cm long with a wingspan up to about 18 cm. They can be found living in colonies in very dark places such as caves and hollow trees. Vampire bats are the only known mammal to exist solely on blood and can die if they go more than two days without food. They feed only aer it has become completely dark, locang their quarry using specialized sensors which detect the heat from blood near the surface of the skin of their prey. An important misunderstanding is that vampire bats suck the blood from their hosts. In fact, they use their fangs only to bite and open the skin of their vicm, then lick the wound. It is believed that a special substance in their saliva prevents clong of the blood. Though bat bites can hurt, it is thought from observaon that the prey feels no major pain when the bats are feeding, as the animals show no signs of discomfort. In general, vampire bats are difficult to disnguish from El Residente

other types, unless caught. One difference, however, is that they have fewer teeth than those of other species, who have thirty or more. This is because vampire bats actually use their teeth less for feeding. A visual trait that differenates this type of bat from others is that their face is more flaened and M-shaped and their nose is more pig-like. The Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus) is found mostly in agricultural areas and tends to prefer feeding on livestock, though some apparently prefer different kinds of prey. This group seems to have a strong social bond, even apparently “adopng” orphaned bats in their group. They will most commonly inhabit caves and cavies in numbers up to 2,000, though colonies are more frequently less than 100 individuals. At night they will follow a river or stream to find livestock to feed on, where they will land, then crawl on feet, wings, and elbows, almost like a spider, to approach their target. Of their twenty-six teeth, the lower incisors are most important for feeding, not the large canines. White-winged Vampire Bats (Diaemus youngi) are considered rare, and locally are found on slopes up to about 1150 meters. They have twenty two teeth and, though they prefer bird to mammal blood, will somemes feed on livestock, probably depending on availability. Not much is known of their social habits, but they have a tendency to roost in caves and similar spots in small groups up to thirty. Probably the most specialized of the group, the Hairylegged Vampire Bat (Diphylla ecaudata) is believed to prefer feeding specifically on birds, as that is all that the capve specimens have been found to accept. They have twenty teeth. They are uncommon to rare and are different from their cousins in that they roost individually in tree hollows or small caves. Though several may inhabit the same place, they will not be in contact with one another. Being deeply nocturnal mammals, as well as being fast and small, it is difficult for the common observer to watch and study these fascinang creatures. Sll, it is possible to find them in their habitat on occasion or, if you happen to be near their feeding grounds at nighme, to spot them hunng. Vampire bats very infrequently aack humans, so the more one comes into contact with them the easier it is to dispel the myths and fear that accompany their image. They are, in fact, quite majesc. 8

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Legal Update by Allan Garro N. New Corporaon Tax in Effect Consequences of the financial crisis that affected the world during the last three years are sll visible everywhere. The latest news coming from Europe reveals the Euro is not as strong as expected, clearly showing that the possibility of a new crisis is sll alive and kicking. Because of this many countries have seen their tax revenues severely reduced due to a decrease in general business acvity. Their immediate reacon has been, ironically, to raise taxes. Costa Rica is not an excepon.

The Government has been trying to get a general tax package named “Fiscal Plan” approved in Congress, but is finding a lot of obstacles, mainly because of the tough opposion by some polical pares that believe it is not smart to raise taxes during a crisis, especially when Public Instuons are reluctant to cut their budgets even in unnecessary areas. While this power struggle connues a new tax against corporaons, of which many people are unaware, was approved. In what might be considered a clever move, on December 27th, 2011 the IMPUESTO A LAS PERSONAS JURÍDICAS, or Tax on Corporaons, appeared in the official gazee as law #9024. By clever, we mean it was rammed through during those days when most people are focused on the Christmas / New Year celebraons and not many people stay in touch with governmental acvity. Coincidence or not, a few years ago another tax package named LEY DE CONTINGENCIA FISCAL or Fiscal Conngency Law was published on a similar day. The basic rules established by this new law are simple: El Residente

The tax is on ALL CORPORATIONS registered in the Naonal Registry, whether they are established as Sociedad Anónimas –Sas-, Limitadas –LLCs-, EIRLS, En Comanditas -Silent Partnerships- or Sociedad en Nombre Colecvo - Collecve Name Company. It also includes foreign corporaons that obtained a corporate ID number at the Registry for their Costa Rican divisions.

The annual amount of the tax is 50% of a salary base, which is currently approximate 180.000 colons or USD $360. Those companies classified as inacve by the Revenue Ministry will be required to pay half the tax, about $180. Inacve companies are those without commercial acvies or income, generally used as holding companies.

The tax will be due in January each year, except in 2012, when it will be due April 1st in order to give Registry a chance to create the technological plaorm to collect the tax at Naonal Registry offices. Interest and fines apply for late payment.

Those companies dissolved by their stockholders before April 1st, 2012 won’t have to pay the tax. If assets need to be transferred into another company’s name they will be exempted from paying transfer taxes for 6 months starng January 1st, 2012.

The criteria are not yet clear as to how a corporaon will be classified as acve or inacve. Hopefully the process won’t involve lengthy procedures or huge lines to obtain a cerficaon from the Revenue Ministry to present to the Naonal Registry. It would be logical to have this kind of informaon online, however, experience over the years has warned us not to expect logic. The law also contains some rules we believe are against the Constuon, therefore it is likely to be challenged in Constuonal Court: •

It creates a personal liability for the legal representaves of companies. They can be held personally responsible for the tax. This 10

process well, and to include a few more dollars in your annual budget to cover this new expense.

contravenes the Code of Commerce and other exisng tax laws. •

If payment is delayed the Registry will not register any amendments or provide any cerficaons related to the corporaon. This last point violates the principle of Public Informaon Rights that rules the Naonal Registry.

In case no payment is received for over 3 years the Naonal Registry will dissolve the company. No other tax law in the country has such a penalty for non-payment, so it could be considered a confiscatory measure.

Those companies operang small businesses registered as PYMES in front of the Economy Ministry are exempted from paying the tax. The list of requirements to become a PYMES can be found on and the registraon process needs to be renewed every year.

A SIDE NOTE. A law recently approved by the United States’ Congress named FATCA will force Banks, Stockbrokers and other Financial Instuons in Costa Rica to send informaon about investments and bank accounts held by US Cizens straight to the Internal Revenue Service in the USA. If you queson how the United States can enforce a law in Costa Rica the answer is they can’t. However, the US Government will retain 30% of all interest or other income sent from the US to any Financial Instuon in Costa Rica that appears to be reluctant to provide the reports they demand. Only COOPERATIVAS or Cooperave Associaons and Complementary Rerement Funds are exempted. The rule is to start being applied in the middle of 2013. ALLAN GARRO N. Aorney at Law

Most expats residing in the country have one or more corporaons, usually to protect properes, cars and other assets. It is strongly recommended to maintain only those that are necessary and think about dissolving the others. In order to reduce the number of companies we recommend merging them. For example, if a person has three corporaons and only requires one, they can be merged instead of dissolving two. This reduces the cost. It seems things are changing regarding having a company in Costa Rica. It is necessary to do the homework to ensure everything is in order to avoid future surprises. Be certain to hire a professional that understands the March - April 2012


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Learning the Language by Chris Howard Sunny Expressions As we all know Costa Rica is a very sunny place, especially during the early part of the year. This is a great me to get out and enjoy our perpetually warm weather, and many take the opportunity to get to the beach. This is also the peak season for tourists to visit for the same reason. Because it is known as such a warm sunny place, it should come as no surprise to find a number of Sunny Experssions to go along with its reputaon. Soleado – sunny Adorador de sol – a sun worshiper Al sol – in the sun. Estoy al sol Estoy bajo el sol – I am in the sun Arrimarse al sol que más calienta – to know which side one’s bread is buered Bajo el sol – under the sun Baño de sol – a sun bath Brilla el sol – the sun is shinning De sol a sol – from sunrise to sunset José trabaja de sol a sol – Joe works from sunrise to sunset El lado brillante de las cosas – the bright side of things Gafas de sol – sunglasses lentes de sol – sunglasses Girasol – sunflower Hace or hay sol – it’s sunny Insolación – sunstroke Insolarse is the verb to get a sunstroke Luz solar – sunlight Sol – the sun or a term of endearment said to one’s lover No dejar a ni sol ni a sombra – to not leave someone alone or to keep a constant eye on them. No dejar en paz is also used. Ponerse el sol – to set (the sun) Atardecer – sunset Puesta del sol – sunset or sundown Quemadura de sol – sunburn Rayo de sol – a sunbeam Reloj de sol – sun-dial Amenecer – sunrise Salida de sol – sunrise Sol de media noche – midnight sun Sol naciente – the rising sun Tomar un baño de sol or asolearse – is to take a sunbath Tiquismos (Costa Rican expressions) of the week: Broncearse los glúteos – to tan one’s buns (bu) Comprar el sol – used in Costa Rica when someone is wearing sunglasses when it is not sunny Ni el sol me calienta – inconsolable or despondent

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A Day in the Life by Allen Dickenson Rice and Beans Periodically I find the need to write about food. Disregarding my tale of aempng to grow an avocado tree, I think the last me was when I lamented the lack of sweet pickles here in Costa Rica, a situaon that has since been resolved, thanks to readers of this column. But it has now come me to speak of food again, this me about rice and beans.

in my former life in the EEUU, I ate rice maybe twice a year. And red beans were something found in chili. (OK Texans, I know that to you true chile has no beans, but I grew up in a different part of the country, so don’t write me, OK?) Anyway, neither were a staple in my diet. But now I have come to love some variaons of rice and beans, like gallo pinto (guy-o pinto) for breakfast, or as a part of a casado for lunch or dinner. Originally gallo pinto was a “poor people’s” food and consisted of yesterday’s rice and beans srred together in a frying pan with some other ingredients like diced onion, peppers, culantro, salsa, and / or anything else available in the larder. The dish has become so widely popular that innumerable recipes abound; there are nearly as many variaons as there are people who eat it. I have seen it with everything menoned above as well as with diced carne (beef) and other things incorporated. It is a standard entry on the menu of most sodas or restaurants and can come as fiery hot as peppers can make it, though less spicy is more common. Some recipes are absolutely delicious, others, to me, less so. I like my wife’s version

Rice and beans are staples in Tico’s diets, a preference that seems to extend across all economic and social levels. To many Ticos any meal without rice and beans just isn’t worth bothering with, a cultural predilecon which is similar to some naonalies’ desire to have potatoes with every meal. They are such a staple for Ticos that even the restaurants rounely include them with most dishes. (I haven’t had the opportunity to try any “finer” Costa Rican restaurants, but it would not surprise me to find them there also.) Recently a Gringo friend of mine, who like me is married to a Tica, menoned that he’s sooo red of rice and beans. “There are only four ways to serve them: rice with beans, beans with rice, rice AND beans, and rice and beans with something else,” he complained. Admiedly, being married to a Tica, I eat them a lot and can too somemes get a lile red of them. Back El Residente


My family follows the Tico tradion and we eat a lot of rice and red beans. Not because we are poor (well, we do have to watch food expenses, what with five, alwayshungry kids and ever increasing prices) but because it’s so ingrained (no pun intended) in their diets that it’s virtually impossible to have a meal without at least one, if not both, being included. About the only thing I can think of that they will accept without at least a side of rice, is pizza. (I fixed spaghe once, using expensive, imported, Ragu brand sauce. They loved it – but I was asked, “Where’s the rice?”)

– with onions, a lile culantro, and mildly hot salsa blended in. Gallo pinto is good, but occasionally I’d like to have a “tradional American breakfast” – some scrambled eggs with cheese, a side of bacon or sausage, hash browns, some wheat toast or maybe some pancakes with maple syrup . . . (The last is beyond my wife’s concepon – she equates pancakes with arepas, a pancake made with maize flour, which is definitely not for breakfast in her book!) So, when I have that overpowering urge for a “tradional American breakfast” I’m stuck with sneaking out to Denny’s. I don’t do that very oen though, as it makes me feel guilty – like I was somehow cheang by not eang gallo pinto. For those who aren’t sure what a casado is, it is a plate that contains, well what else would you expect, generous porons of rice and beans, plus a small serving of some kind of meat or fish, and a lile salad. (Salad in Costa Rica! Now there’s a subject for a future piece!) Maybe a slice of avocado or a fried egg is also included. The casado is considered a “working class” meal and some restaurants will sell essenally the same dish, maybe dressed up some, but call it a plato execuvo or plato de dia (plate of the day) to avoid the class disncon. Either of those, however, might get you something completely different, like spaghe.

In any case, it looks like I am stuck eang lots of rice and beans. The good thing about that is that I have lost over 40 pounds (probably the result of too many trips to the Denny’s of the world in the past.) Admiedly, I was a lile overweight, so I’m not suffering nor am I am eang less, I am eang beer. And look beer! Hey, there’s an idea! Maybe I could make a gazillion dollars wring a diet book – “Lose weight with the Costa Rican Miracle Diet!” First three pages: 1) Move to Costa Rica, 2) Marry a Tica, 3) Learn to say arroz y frijoles, casado, and gallo pinto. . . Allen Dickinson is a member of ARCR. Aer serving 23 years in the US Navy he seled in Pensacola, Florida, where he resided for 24 years. In 2006 he rered from operang his own licensed mortgage brokerage business and relocated to Costa Rica. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of the State of New York and a Master of Arts degree from the University of West Florida. He can be reached via email at:

By-the-way, the word casado shouldn’t be confused with casada, which means a married woman. So, be careful how you say it when you order – you don’t want to be like a friend of mine who was told he needed to grow some more muscles before he started ordering “married women” for lunch. March - April 2012


Costa Rica Living by Ana Hernández Global Efforts in Costa Rica Parcipang as a volunteer in trying to build a beer world in any remote region is not only hard work, it is also a lot of fun.

five kilometer unpaved, bumpy road, which separates Buenos Aires from Salitre, is accessible by car and rural taxis, but it is a beer idea is to go there in a 4X4 vehicle.

I work with students from internaonal U.S. universies every year, helping them complete a part of their required global service learning assignment. Since our group of students is studying in Costa Rica, we provide them with excing opportunies to volunteer in communies that are oen off the beaten path. So, in March we travel to small rural communies where we hope that, by the end of our assignment our contribuon, albeit small, is going to make a difference in the lives of the people there. Our goal last March was to spend two weeks working in Salitre, which is Bribri territory in the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica. We traveled to this Indigenous region, located near the City of Buenos Aires in the province of Puntarenas, by bus, a five- hour trip. On the way we scanned the faces of everybody in our group wondering if their bright smiles were going to last once they had been confronted with the many hours of hard and dirty work ahead of them. There are a total of fourteen towns that comprise the autonomous, indigenous district of Salitre, which are inhabited by about 300 Bribri. Although rural, this Indigenous reservaon has an aqueduct with water that is safe to drink, electricity, and a small health dispensary (EBAIS). Doctors make regular visits to the communies and there is also a hospital only thirty minutes away. A

Although far away and very rural, the region of Salitre is not the most economically depressed nor the area in the region most in dire need of outside help. It did, however, offer us several projects that were realisc enough for us to complete in the two weeks we were planning on being there. One project was to work on a makeshi high school (just thin walls and a n roof) that needed lots of infrastructure improvement. Because of the noise, it was nearly impossible for the teachers to conduct the lessons and for the students to concentrate while class was being taught. Addionally, we helped with other interesng projects such as preparing the soil for a vegetable garden in a tough patch of jungle (in very hot and humid condions) and building an area to keep compost materials. While on locaon, we met with the leaders of their main local organizaon; the Bribripa Kaneblo. They expressed concern about how the Bribris had lost touch with their autochthonous culture and how most people there had forgoen the nave Bribri language. Also, because of the strong influence of other religions, they worried that the people have lost the concept of Sibö, the Bribri´s Supreme Being. Aware of the erosion of their own culture, the leaders have organized with the purpose of regaining some of their lost ethnic heritage. They have worked hard to build a small village with indigenous-style houses

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of tradional Bribri architecture – tall thatched roofs made with palm leaves – to show how the people lived in the past. This small complex has a classroom to teach the Bribri language, an arsan shop, kitchen facilies to serve tradional lunches, and three thatched-roof cabins which they rent to tourists. Most importantly, they have built a temple known as the “Usure” which they share with the rest of the community to celebrate the Bribri cosmovision, Örkö Sauk. Another important project is the reforestaon of a 450 hectare area of forest land they have set aside in the tall mountains surrounding their reserve. The Bribri´s main economic acvies are the planng of corn, beans, and yucca (an edible root) and they raise chickens and pigs, which they use for their own consumpon. Many Bribri men and women work as farmers in nearby pineapple fields, geng exposed to dangerous chemicals and earning minimum wage. Pineapple, grown primarily for export, is a controversial subject in the region due to the connuous depleon of the soil and the use of pescides and agrochemicals that pollute local water sources.

Despite the strenuous physical work and the hardships they encountered, the students really enjoyed the interacon with the people in the community. The Bribri of Salitre are a joyous, friendly group of people who were great hosts. They organized various cultural acvies with typical dances, fesve meals, music, and bingo so the volunteers could interact with the community. Wood was gathered from a nearby forest and chopped by the young volunteers. Corn tamales were made by all and later cooked on a roaring fire over bricks placed on the dirt floor. Our group of volunteers danced with the local kids, played soccer with them, gave them English lessons, and lived with them in their households for two weeks. At the end, our volunteers and the Bribris of Salitre, learned a great lesson from each other; that cultural differences can be erased with a good laugh, hard work, and lots of human understanding. To learn more about the BRIBRIPA KANEBLO organizaon in Salitre, please visit: ?pages/Centro-Cultural-Bribripa

Our group of seventeen students, the majority of which were from small towns in Wisconsin, were great troopers aer all. They got exposed to sweltering heat and humidity and hordes of mosquitoes that bite viciously in early morning and late aernoon. They had to share quarters with frightening looking (although not highly poisonous) scorpions; watching for these creatures was something they had to keep in mind every me they put on their shoes and clothing in the morning.

March - April 2012


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Take Note of the New Currency 2000 Colones The second of a new series of Costa Rican currency bills, the 2000 Colon note went into circulaon on June 20th, 2010. It was released in conjucon with the new ¢1000 bill, and following a new set of specificaons, is of a different size to make it easier to disnguish it from the other bills. All of the new currency will be of different sizes in fact. The new bill features the image of Mauro Fernández Acuña on the face. Don Mauro, who was born on December 19, 1843, was chosen because of his considerable influence on public educaon.

Characteriscs of Costa Rican Two Mil Bill: Size: 132 x 67 mm Substrate: 100% coon fiber paper Predominant Color: Blue Mof: Superior High School for Girls Personage: Mauro Fernández Acuña (1843 – 1905) Ecosystem: Coral Reef Featured Species: Bull shark Starfish Sea pens Where Don Mauro truly le his mark was as Minister of Public Instrucon during the Government of Don Bernardo Soto. In 1886 he was instrumental in the passing of the “Common Educaon Act”, an iniave that focused naonal educaon in fundamental and scienfic ways, with a praccal orientaon. The reforms included the preparaon of teachers, implementaon of modern teaching methods, and the organizaon of curriculum. The Act also established and regulated the Treasury School. In 1888 he went on to establish scholarships for Secon Normal College for Girls and to adopt textbooks. In 1889 he approved programs for degree examinaons for higher educaon and professional schools and regulang the Naonal Schools. Don Mauro Fernández Acuña, who died July 16, 1905, was truly a major influence on Costa Rica becoming the country it is today.

Don Mauro’s father had died as a result of a cholera epidemic and his mother inslled in her son all the educaon she could; at age eight he spoke English and French, had read the classics, played piano, and sang. The culture and the love he received in his childhood prepared him for what would later become his considerable accomplishments; in 1869 he received a law degree, and later became co-judge, prosecutor, and judge of the Supreme Court. Don Mauro also served his country as deputy to the Constuent Assembly in 1888, and further on as a member of Congress of the Republic, Professor of Forensics, and Minister of Finance.

March - April 2012

The reverse side of the bill features the Costa Rican coral reef ecosystem and depicts a Bull Shark and other sea creatures, as listed in the cover page descripon. Brief wrien by: Osvaldo Valerín Ramírez.


Connecon, WCCR by Stacey Auch Empowering Professional Women in Costa Rica and Assisng Those in Need April 27 and 28 are going to be very important days for professional women in Costa Rica. Through the hard work of the Professional Women’s Group of the Women’s Club of Costa Rica, local women will have access to one of the top female leaders of the USA as well as the opportunity to meet the acvist, leader and feminist, Gloria Feldt.

will be equipped to leave with real tools to help them live with intenon in their lives to reach parity, from the boardroom to the bedroom. There will also be an Exclusive Power Dinner which will also offer aendees the special opportunity to meet this dynamic and influenal icon during the evening of Saturday, April 28th . There will be only a limited number of spaces available at the table, so please watch for cket informaon. These special events will not only provide an opportunity for professional women in Costa Rica to connect, learn, and find support systems with each other, but to benefit those women in the country who do not have the abilies to parcipate. All profits from the events will go towards helping the Women’s Club of Costa Rica fund addional scholarships for female university students. These scholarships help these bright young ladies with basic material and travel costs, in addion to the professional English and job experience training the Professional Women’s Group offers.

Feldt is an expert on leadership and women’s relaonship with power. Her years of experience come from being a teenage mother from rural Texas to being a CEO of such organizaons as Planned Parenthood. Feldt will be coming to Costa Rica to offer her first workshop in Lan America on April 27th. The workshop will be based on her most recent book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. During the course she will work with aendees to share inspiraon and the praccal “Power Tools” she has developed during her personal career, research, interviews and life experiences. Feldt’s intenon with this workshop is to explain why women have been able to break the glass ceiling, but sll find themselves struggling to fill more ideal posions of leadership at home, work, and the community. Women will have the chance to meet and learn from Feldt on three different occasions.

Full details for event mes, locaons, cket sales, and sponsorship opportunies will soon be available at and on Facebook: 134514626592466. Please email with any comments or quesons. To learn more about Gloria Feldt’s visit, PWG is a new interest group of the Women’s Club of Costa Rica which has been acve for 70 years serving local communies. PWN has been developed specifically for women of all naonalies to encourage personal and professional development through networking with other professional women, and to develop programs to contribute to all women in Costa Rica. PWN is an English speaking group and beginner level English is welcome. For more informaon email

A Business Connecons Recepon will be held on Friday, April 27th from 6 p.m. – 9p.m. Aendees will have the opportunity to meet and network with Ms. Feldt and many of the top female leaders in Costa Rica.

Website: hp:// Twier: hp://, Fa c e b o o k : h tt p : / / w w w.fa c e b o o k . c o m / p a g e s / Professional-Womens-Network-Womens-Club-ofCosta-Rica/134514626592466?ref=ts.

Saturday, April 28th, The Professional Women’s Group will be host to Feldt’s unique Power Workshop which will open thoughul dialogue and idea sharing. Aendees

Stacey Auch, Chair Professional Women’s Group Women’s Club of Costa Rica

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March - April 2012


Dollars & $ense by Alan Weeks

banking, which made money on deposits.

Capitalism & Innovaon for Growth

Greed and avarice appeared to have abounded thereaer in the U.S. financial sector and new financial instruments were created to maximize reported profits and to gain personally there from. However, when the financial crisis occurred, those huge reported profits were shown to have been illusionary and much of what was done seems to have been unethical. Moreover, we have been le to wonder why the huge personal gains from these illusionary profits remained private, while the enormous losses were “socialized” at taxpayer expense. Some of us perceive this as an example of government by the elites for the elites.

Whatever the imperfecons of free-market capitalism, no regime that has tried replacement, from Fabian socialism, to Soviet-style communism, to the Chinese Stast privileged class system, has succeeded in meeng the needs of the majority of its people for long. As one journalist (1) expressed it: America became the wealthiest country because for most of its history the basic principles of economic freedom were followed: property rights, freedom to trade internaonally, minimal governmental intervenon in business, sound money, relavely low taxes, the rule of law, entrepreneurship, and the freedom to fail. That is called capitalism. And, he pointed to the success of economic freedom in increasing human prosperity, extending our life spans, and improving the quality of our lives in countless ways, as the most successful global story of the past 200 years.

COMPARING ECONOMIC SYSTEMS Controlled experiments with economic systems are not feasible for a naon to undertake. However, the side by side development of East and West Germany aer the Second World War provided a stark contrast between the polical and economic systems of central planning and control vs. market capitalism. Remember, both countries started with the same culture, language, history, and value systems. Then, for 40 years they competed on opposite sides of a Wall. This real-life experiment came to an abrupt end in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and East Germany was exposed as an economic ruin, relave to the marketoriented West Germany. Much of the third world at that me absorbed the lessons of this economic “tutorial” and converted quietly to market capitalism.

What is objeconable to most people is the pracce of “crony capitalism”. Crony capitalism is a very unsasfactory state of affairs when government leaders, in exchange for polical support or lucrave lobbyist jobs aer leaving office, rounely bestow favors on private-sector individuals, businesses, or unions. That is not capitalism. It is called corrupon. Washington and Wall Street strayed far from capitalist principles aer provisions of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 were repealed in 1999. This Act had separated investment banking, which issued securies and riskier financial instruments, from commercial El Residente

Funconing in newly opened compeve markets, China and much of the developing world unleashed explosive economic growth. The IMF esmated that by 2005 more than 800 million members of the world’s labor force were engaged in export-oriented and therefore compeve markets; an increase of 500 million since the fall of the Wall. While central planning may no longer be a credible form of economic organizaon, the intellectual bale for its rival, free-market capitalism, is far from won. At issue, the dynamic defining capitalism, that of unforgiving market compeon, clashes with an inbred human desire for stability, and for more civility. 22

However, the assailed greed and avarice oen associated with capitalism are in fact characteriscs of human nature, not of market capitalism, and these are found in all economic regimes. And, the legimate concern of increasing inequality of incomes reflects globalizaon and insider cronyism, not capitalism. There is lile queson that capitalist pracces need adjustment and sound regulatory oversight. However, bureaucrats, whether encouraged or le to their own devices, are very prone to expand their “empires” and increase their regulatory control. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN SILICON VALLEY (2) A good example of a place in the U.S. where there remains a “bubble of prosperity” is in Silicon Valley. It is a world in which: “companies can’t hire people fast enough, young people can work hard and make a fortune, homes hold their value, and the Occupy Wall Street issues are not part of its daily reality”. In fact, turbulence in the rest of the world may actually be helping Silicon Valley, as wealthy Russians and Chinese send their kids to school there, and compete to “park” their riches in the region’s most promising startups. As one former lab director expressed it: “With easy access to venture capital and sophiscated scienfic tools, the future looks blindingly bright for entrepreneurs and researchers. So it’s stunning to see how cynical everybody else is. The cynics are looking at the world through a rear-view mirror, trying to preserve the past as opposed to seizing the moment and moving forward with greater imaginaon”. INVENTION and INNOVATION for ECOMOMIC GROWTH One reason “dismal science” aptly describes economics is that it oen winds up in a zero-sum trade-off of diminishing returns. That gets depressing when the global economy is in such a sorry state. Many economists and polical leaders view the economy as a “fixed size of pie that needs to be divided up and shared when mes are tough”. They fail to understand that the real need is to “grow the size of the pie” so that the benefits are greater and more widely shared. The fact is that Business is not a “zero-sum game March - April 2012

struggling over a fixed pie”. Instead businesses grow with economic freedom, making the total “pie” larger and creang value for all its stakeholders, including employees and communies. We believe that fundamental innovaons will be the foundaon of new industries, which will generate more growth in the future. And, even in the toughest mes, innovaon has helped differenate companies and lead to successful growth. This was true in the 1930’s, in Japan since 1990, and as well as during the recession of 2009. As one researcher and development leader (3) put it: “Yes Virginia, there is a magical engine for economic growth. It is invenon – the process by which the human mind creates new ideas with praccal consequences. Invenon is magical because the magnitude of the output can exceed by almost infinite measure the magnitude of the inputs. Invenon is, directly or indirectly, a primary source of the value we call growth.” HOW TO CRANK UP AMERICA’S ECONOMIC DYNAMO (4) The author being paraphrased in this secon is a U.S. business school dean. He believes that the dynamism of the U.S. economy can be restarted, delivering producvity, growth and raising living standards. His concept consists of three parts: Innovaon, Investment, and Inclusion. A. Innovaon, he said, comes in two forms: 1. “Non-destrucve creaon” – the development of enrely new products and business models. Policies that support this include basic research and financial sector regulaon that encourages lending as well as financial stability. 2. “Creave destrucon” – the other form of innovaon, he contends, is also vital. It is important to recognize that in dynamic economies, both creaon and destrucon are high. And, he pointed out that in the 20 years before the financial crisis, annual job creaon in the U.S. was consistently higher than annual job destrucon. He believes that, in order to foster creave destrucon, it needs to be easier to replace failing management and to re-allocate labor and capital. The author addressed the support for employees caught in the changes in a policy of inclusion. 23

B. “Investment is the second driver of dynamism.” Policies should ensure that both domesc and foreign capital go to producve use. Broad tax reforms are needed that beer allocate resources for investment. Geng rid of loopholes for favored businesses and implemenng a broader, fair tax system would provide a sounder financial base for the future. C. “Inclusion” It is vital that economic policy emphasizes broad inclusion in the gains from growth. A top priority is to support individuals caught in the change that is the byproduct of American dynamism. He favors personal re-employment accounts and increasing affordability for re-educaon and retraining over outmoded Federal programs. CARPE DIEM (5) A great story was blogged recently with economic lessons in private property rights, compeon, entrepreneurship, and the triumph of the individual over the State. Here are some excerpts: “In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China’s economy in ways that are sll reverberang today. “The contract was so risky — and such a big deal — because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village’s collecve farm; there was no personal property. ‘Back then, not even one straw belonged to the group,’ said one of the farmers in that village in 1978. ‘No one owned anything.’ “In theory, the government would take what the collecve grew and would also distribute food to each family. There was no incenve to work hard — to go out to the fields early, to put in extra effort. Thus, he said: ‘Work hard, don’t work hard - everyone gets the same, so people don’t want to work.’ “There was never enough food in that village and the farmers oen had to go to other villages to beg. Their children were going hungry. They were desperate. So, in the winter of 1978, aer another terrible harvest, they came up with an idea: Rather than farm as a collecve, El Residente

each family would get to farm its own plot of land. If a family grew a lot of food, that family could keep some of the harvest. “This is an old idea, of course. But in communist China of 1978 it was so dangerous that the farmers had to gather in secret to discuss it. Despite the risks, they decided they had to try this experiment — and to write it down as a formal contract, so everyone would be bound to it. By the light of an oil lamp, the contract was wrien out and hidden inside a piece of bamboo in the roof of one house. “The farmers agreed to divide up the land among the families. Each family agreed to turn over some of what they grew to the government, and to the collecve. And, crucially, the farmers agreed that families that grew enough food would get to keep some for themselves. The contract also recognized the risks the farmers were taking. If any of the farmers were sent to prison or executed, it said, the others in the group would care for their children unl age 18. “The farmers tried to keep the contract secret, but when they returned to the fields, everything was different. Before the contract, the farmers would drag themselves out into the field only when the village whistle blew, marking the start of the work day. Aer the contract, the families went out before dawn. ‘We all secretly competed,’ he said. ‘Everyone wanted to produce more than the next person.’ “It was the same land, the same tools, and the same people. Yet just by changing the economic rules — by saying, you get to keep some of what you grow — everything changed. At the end of the season, they had an enormous harvest: more, it was said, than in the previous five years combined.” It was also my personal experience that small companies which gave employees the freedom to be entrepreneurial, as well as offering profit-sharing or a piece of the ownership, proved to be much more dynamic, innovave, and resourceful. Please note that the opinions expressed in this arcle are solely those of the writer. For more informaon and reference details please contact Alan Weeks by E-mail: 24

March - April 2012


Exchange rate of the Costa Rican ¢ to the US Dollar August September October November December January

516.77 519.87 521.11 512.10 518.33 514.91

Basic Interest Rate August September October November December January

7.25 % 7.75 % 8.00 % 8.00 % 8.00 % 8.75 %

Exchange rate of other currencies to the US Dollar Giro Canadian Dollar Euro Swiss Franc Nicaraguan Cordoba Danish Krone Norwegian Kroner Swedish Krona Honduran Lempira Brish Pound Argenne Peso Columbian Peso Mexican Peso Dominican Peso Brazilian Real Guatemalan Quetzal Korean Won Japanese Yen Venezuelan BolĂ­var Hong Kong Dollar Taiwan Dollar Bolivian Peso Chilean Peso Russian Rouble Peruvian Sol Polish Zloty Australian Dollar Chinese Yuan

1.55108 0.99890 1.31700 0.91460 23.05800 5.64480 5.81990 6.76070 19.05500 1.57720 4.33350 1,805.40000 12.93460 38.93000 1.73870 7.78450 1,123.26000 76.27000 4.29470 7.75570 29.57300 6.93000 487.95000 30.18000 2.68950 3.20350 1.06570 6.30820

Libor Rate 1 month 3 month 6 month 12 month Prime Rate

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0.26475 % 0.54235 % 0.77825 % 1.09570 % 3.25 %


Holidays of Costa Rica Monday, March19th Saint Joseph’s Day- Observance Monday-Friday, April 2nd-6th Easter Week- Naonal Holiday ARCR Closed Sunday, April 8th Easter Sunday- Naonal Holiday A Touch of Wisdom “Give the devil his due.” - English proverb (c1589) “If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher’s stone.” - Ben Franklin (1706-1790) “No one should be judge in his own cause.” - Legal maxim A Bit of Fun... Hospital regulations require a wheel chair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet. When I offered my assistance, he insisted he didn’t need my help to leave the hospital. After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator. On the way down I asked him if his wife was meeting him... ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘She’s still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.’

March - April 2012


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El Residente 2012_03  

The Ides of March is already coming, and with it comes our newest addition to the family of El Residente magazine from the ARCR...

El Residente 2012_03  

The Ides of March is already coming, and with it comes our newest addition to the family of El Residente magazine from the ARCR...